"HOW CAN I HELP MY SON IF HE IS USING DRUGS?"

Therapist A is a counsellor with a psychodynamic approach with experience of working with adults and young people.

It is hard to know what sort of relationship you have with your son. On the one hand he tells you quite a bit about how he came to acquire and take a substance but you have to force him to have a test to find out what he has been using. However I think that the relationship you and your husband have with him is going to be very important in this situation and throughout his adolescence.

You need to keep a dialogue open with your son, to let him to know where you both stand in relation to drug taking, and that your concern is for him and about the harm that could come to him. It is very easy for young people to look at their friends who are taking drugs and see no evident damage. Try to remain factual and firm in your attitude but avoid confrontation. He needs to be sure that that your concern is about him, that you care for him. It may get thrown back in your face but stay with it.

There are a variety of reasons why young people get caught up in drug taking. Some experiment a bit but realize that it is not for them but others get more involved. It would be a good idea to think about your sonís motivation for experimenting with drugs. Is he curious to experience the effect? Is it about his place in the peer group? Is it to do with the change of school? Perhaps itís a misguided attempt to appear cool or to have a place in the new group. If you have concerns about a possible drug culture in the school, perhaps a meeting with whoever is responsible for pastoral care would be a good idea. However peer group pressure can have an impact. Perhaps he is testing his parents, seeing how far he can go, where your boundaries lie.

Without knowing a great deal more about you and your husband and the history of your family relationships, I cannot say more. Try not to panic, remain loving but firm, wonder about why and, above all, keep an open dialogue with your son that is not just about the negative aspects of drugs but about all the other things he is interested in.

Therapist B is a Relate-trained counsellor with experience of working with relationship issues and is an experienced couples counsellor
Hello, I'm so sorry that you are facing the problem of your son possibly using drugs, & have looked up some useful information on the net- see below- which gives a lot of useful links/contact numbers. It sounds very sensible to have already got your son tested, so at least you'll know the extent of his use, if any, quite quickly. Your concern is very understandable but it seems that your son is able to talk to you quite openly, which doesn't always happen. Perhaps it would be helpful to look at all the information so that you can be well versed in what is available in the way of support in your area. It may also help you to find out why your son feels the need to take/sell drugs- is it peer pressure, what does he need the money for, & how far he has already gone down this potentially dangerous path? There is also a confidential help line which may be able to give you advice quickly- good luck, I hope that you can help your son asap.
http://riviera.angloinfo.com/information/family/teenagers/alcohol-drugs  Drug abuse helpline: Drogues Info Service, confidential advice and help in French. Open daily 08:00-02:00 Tel: 0800 23 13 13 / Tel: 01 70 23 13 13
Therapist C is a psychotherapist trained in gestalt psychotherapy and neuro-linguistic programming

As a parent, I can empathise with your situation and I know how difficult it can feel to guide teenagers through their growing up process. I guess by now you have the results of the tests which will make the next steps perhaps clearer in terms of what sort of support to look for. I noted something in your letter which felt significant to me. It was the way your son said he wanted to smoke some drugs and so he asked around. He asked around in an environment that apparently is new to him and where he doesnít know anyone well yet. I may be wrong but at his age I doubt that the effect of the drug itself is what he is looking for. That needs perhaps more answers. However in the eventuality that heís not seeking the actual drug effect that leaves the question as to what he really is trying to achieve. Iím sure that asking around for drugs in a new school doesnít leave him unnoticed in the crowd. It goes around and an identity is formed. Is he destabilised going to this new school? Itís an intense and anxious time for him I imagine. It takes time to adjust and he may be trying to integrate rapidly. You didnít mention whether heís a boarding school now or whether he comes home every day but whatever the changes are, they are very intense for teenagers. Whilst I am clear that you need to remain very firm on the question of not accepting drugs at all on the other hand I think that you or perhaps the school psychologist need to help him explore his experience of interacting with a new group and any relational worries and give him support around that.

There is a national association that can help. The ę Association Nationale de Prevention en addictologie et alcoologie Ľ. Thereís one in every department. They are very experienced in prevention and treatment issues and helping people with issues such as you describe. They help the family as much as the person concerned. I hope it works out for the best.